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We expect the level of insanity in our children's programming to settle down somewhere between Sesame Street and The Big Comfy Couch. It's perfectly acceptable to toss some creepiness into a show every so often, because children need to learn that life isn't all baby-powered sunshine and rainbows. That said, we're pretty sure the world could've done without ...

6
Futuristic Zorro Upgraded His Weapons, Lost Track Of Why He Was Cool In The First Place

Cookie Jar Entertainment

Characters like Zorro sort of exist in a historical vacuum simply because of their signature traits. It would be hard to place Zorro in today's world, because Zorro, being a master swordsman, would often almost literally be taking a knife to a gunfight. No more! Enter Zorro: Generation Z.

Cookie Jar Entertainment
Ugh, freaking millennials.

We'll go ahead and walk you through the show's opening theme:

The show is set in the future (2015 AD), and we open in a world in which Gothic churches have been reconfigured into science labs, even though those buildings were in no way designed to support powerful electronics. Zorro suddenly appears on a motorcycle, leaving some nerd in the dust and the average viewer wondering why Zorro's cape didn't catch fire.

Cookie Jar Entertainment
Remember the fire-cycle fad of late 2015? Wild times.

There are then some action shots of Zorro using a flaming grappling hook / whip combo -- an idea so brilliant that it was later borrowed by Ghost Rider.

Cookie Jar Entertainment
Which is appropriate, because he's gonna end up as a flaming skeleton if he ever points that thing the wrong way.

Zorro then rolls around to use a bulletproof cape as a shield, deftly skirting the whole "I'm fighting futuristic machine gun criminals with a sword" issue. We should now point out that 40 seconds into this 60-second headscratcher is when we finally get a glimpse of Zorro doing some sword work ... for less than a second. About five seconds later, we get a closer look at Zorro's new future-sword, and holy shit, he's a Sith.

Cookie Jar Entertainment
Someone tell Disney's lawyers about this, quick.

Of course, this travesty completely misses the point of the character. Zorro was cool because he needed nothing more than a sword, a hat, and a length of black tablecloth to combat real-world injustice. This is some rich daddy's boy using hi-tech gadgets to beat up mentally unbalanced people. Batman is the one who's supposed to be a Zorro ripoff, not the other way around. However, in Zorro: Generation Z's defense, the theme song is bitchin'.

5
The Extreme, Post-Apocalyptic Looney Tunes

Warner Bros. Animation

The Looney Tunes characters have changed outfits and life situations so often that we thought a feature-length movie about them playing basketball with Michael Jordan in outer space was not only normal, but something we collectively deemed a highlight of pop culture. It was inevitable, then, that one day Warner Bros. would attempt a gritty reboot. The best metaphor for Loonatics: Unleashed comes from the teaser ad itself, in which we see the classic toons being covered by a black substance which we have to assume is pure, condensed shit.

Warner Bros. Animation
The aftermath of taco night at the WB animation studio.

These wacky, fun-loving characters are then morphed almost beyond recognition, and emerge looking like a BDSM/furry biker gang.

Warner Bros. Animation
This would kill on DeviantArt.

Whereas the greatest Tunes shorts had simple plots like "Bugs evades being hunted" or "a skunk tries to fuck a cat," this show has a slightly more elaborate storyline. It's the year 2772, and the planet has been flung out of orbit by a meteor. The world now requires a team of superheroes to keep things in line -- yeah, these guys have powers. For example, Buzz "I've Been Chain-Smoking Marlboros Since I Was Born" Bunny has laser vision, while Lexi "Sexy Female Rabbits Are Obligatory After Space Jam" Bunny has better-than-average hearing. The villains include futuristic versions of other Looney Tunes, like Electro J. Fudd, Sylth Vester, and Queen Grannicus (the tyrannical descendant of Granny from the Tweety cartoons).

Warner Bros. Animation
Be thankful they don't have the rights to Mammy Two Shoes.

Understandably, the fan reaction was "NOPE." Character names were changed and the designs were softened ("Buzz" was now "Ace," and had pupils), but the delivery was still fumbled right out of the gate. After a miserable first season, the creative team tried to make the show more like the original Looney Tunes -- which was difficult, given that they'd set this in Christopher Nolan's idea of a cartoon universe. The series was quickly cancelled, in a rare show of mercy to future generations.

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4
The Berenstain Bears Found God

Zonderkidz

No matter how you spell their name, the Berenstain Bears have had a profound influence on children around the world, in part by cornering the lucrative "kids who had nothing better to read at the dentist's office" market. Over the years, this family of anthropomorphic bears have tackled all sorts of day-to-day issues, like bullying and sharing and probably laundry.

Lately, however, their adventures are a getting a little more monothematic:

Zonderkidz
God had nothing to do with these mutant atrocities.

This is tricky subject material for children's books. Say Their Prayers probably works fine. You could turn it into a Goodnight, Moon-esque nighttime story. Follow God's Word, on the other hand, is inherently more complex. God had a lot of words, you see (you could make a whole book out of them), and some are quite NC-17. Also, a few of these titles sound rather ominous when seen under a "the end of days is near" lens:

Zonderkidz
"No, Sister Bear! Do not run from the annihilation wave! There is no escape!"

It turns out that the Berenstains (the humans who write the books) let their son Mike take things over after patriarch Stan died in 2005. Mike had gotten a lot of feedback that Christian families loved the Bears' values-based message, and wanted him to slide on down that slippery slope. So he did. And he never looked back. The great majority of the books published since 2008 are explicitly God-themed.

Zonderkidz
Shouldn't the animals in this universe be naked, savage humans?

He also put it all on an app, because there's no technology too advanced for the "aging Christians" demographic. New Berenstain Bears stories come out simultaneously in digital and book forms. So if your kids are old enough to be using a smartphone, please take a moment to make sure they haven't been reading about Biblical horse dicks.

3
The Sandlot And Cinderella Are Suddenly About Time Travel

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

The Sandlot is a timeless classic about a bunch of kids playing baseball at their local field and rescuing a ball signed by Babe Ruth from a slobbering dog owned by a blind James Earl Jones. It inspired kids around the country to pick up a bat and ball, only to find out that it's a lot harder to field a team for pickup baseball than it is for any other game. Despite a rosy nostalgia for the 1960s, there's nothing even remotely supernatural about this franchise, beyond the Exorcist-like puking sequence.

At least, until this happened:

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
So "Archie's dad" isn't the weirdest role on Luke Perry's IMDb page.

The Sandlot 3 stars Luke Perry as a successful, insufferable dickhead who gets smashed in the head with a wild pitch, and finds himself magically transported back in time -- an opportunity he'll use to fix his relationships (our most cultured readers will recognize as more or less the plot of The Santa Clause 3). Again, this is the third installment in a franchise about kids playing baseball and in no way interacting with the spacetime continuum.

It seems the third installment of a series is the most natural place to introduce time travel elements out of nowhere, because Disney's direct-to-video Cinderella III: A Twist In Time does the same freaking thing. In it, one of Cinderella's wicked stepsisters, inexplicably not executed by the prince after the events of the first film, stumbles upon the Fairy Godmother's wand. Wands in the hands of even moderately annoying spoiled brats can be trouble, so of course the stepfamily screws up the entire timeline, Terminator Genisys-style. Cinderella's stepsister winds up taking her place (and glass shoe) in the original story.

Walt Disney
This is where all the puke from The Sandlot ended up.

Somehow, Cinderella's mice buddies manage to save the day by scurrying all over the kingdom and operating as informants. Some inconsistencies with wand usage occur, and then Cinderella is given the option to change things back to the way they were. Instead, she decides to stay in this split timeline, because she still winds up marrying the prince anyways. And really, who cares if the rest of the world is destroyed and wrong, as long as you still get to have everything you want?

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2
The Air Bud Franchise Has Completely Lost It

Walt Disney

Air Bud has one of those timeless, universal premises. It's about a dog who can play basketball. As simple as that. Best of all, the real dog actor, Buddy, could actually play basketball, so no special effects were needed for his shots.

Walt Disney
He was also one of the best actors in Full House.

You might think the sad passing of such a singular talent would prevent more Air Bud movies from being made, but that's why you're not a billionaire Hollywood producer. It started innocently enough, with a movie about a football-playing dog which was dedicated to Buddy's memory. However, since nobody could tell the difference between golden retrievers, Disney decided to exhaust every sport they could think of and shat out three more sequels, covering soccer, baseball, and volleyball.

Walt Disney
In the soccer one, "sports" should be in quotes.

After six bleeding years of Air Bud movies, they were running out of sports that Americans vaguely care about. So like any failing marriage, they decided to throw kids into the mix to see if that helped anything. As a result, Air Bud's bastard puppies now run about through situations that no sane owner would allow.

Walt Disney
For instance, no responsible parent would send their children to space with Spuds MacKenzie as a chaperone.

Besides visiting space, the puppies have gone an Indiana Jones-style adventure, been haunted by ghost dogs, met Santa, and gotten superpowers. Oh yeah, and they fucking talk. None of which bears any resemblance to the original Air Bud beyond "dogs are in it." You know how Seabiscuit's children were never nearly as talented as he was? Buddy the Golden Retriever somehow got it worse. (And they aren't even his real children; Buddy sired no heirs.)

1
Little Orphan Annie Ended With Annie Kidnapped By A War Criminal

Gracenote

Little Orphan Annie was a comic strip about an orphan who is little and whose name is Annie. You may know her from her many cinematic adaptations over the years, all of which feature her singing about the day after today.

Well, despite starting during the Coolidge administration, the comic strip was still going as recently as this decade, though a lot had changed. Annie had more or less grown up over the years, and was now fighting crime on a regular basis. This is apparently the only career trajectory for wealthy orphans.

However, things took a dark turn in 2010. By that point, fewer than 20 newspapers in America still carried the strip. With the few people left on the planet who still gave a shit about Annie's adventures barely able to read about them, her creators finally decided to pull the plug, ending her 80-year dramatic saga in the most elegant way possible: by making her adoptive father think she'd been fed to sharks.

Gracenote

Gracenote

Gracenote
"Toss her into the fucking sea."

Turns out Annie had been kidnapped by a wanted mass murderer known as "the Butcher of the Balkans." The final strip shows Daddy Warbucks resigning himself to the fact that Annie is dead, while the girl is welcomed to her "new life" by her kidnapper ... which is even more terrifying than being eaten by sharks, when you think about it.

Gracenote
From that day on, Warbucks swore he'd destroy all other orphans, especially Superman.

The storyline was only resolved four years later, in the pages of Dick Tracy (which, holy crap, is still going). With Tracy's help, the Butcher is blown to shit and Annie goes back to looking exactly like she did in the '20s, because eh, who cares.

Meanwhile, remember Mark Trail? It's an also-long-running adventure strip about an environmentalist who, as expected, spends considerable amounts of time visiting different parts of the environment. Except, that is, during the long storyline from this year wherein Mark gets trapped in a cave and just stays there for six months -- driving the people who still rely on comic strips for entertainment utterly insane.

King Features Syndicate

King Features Syndicate

King Features Syndicate
At least the story and the art convey the exact same level of excitement.

Perhaps even crazier is the time Mark got caught up in the middle of a (*gasp*) marijuana farm. You'd think someone as "connected to nature" as him would be totally OK with that, but he inexplicably beats the hell out of the farmers, presumably because he loves nature too much and can't bear the thought of anyone setting defenseless plants on fire.

Also check out If Every Kids' Show Got A Gritty Live-Action Reboot and 5 Beloved Icons That Need A Gritty Reboot.

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